This kind of mental and moral treatment has been sufficient to cure many neuroses of long standing. In cases that are helped by this method, the patient’s love-force, robbed of the material out of which it has woven its disguise, and trained out of its bad habits by re-education, automatically makes its own readjustments and forces new channels for itself out into more useful activities. Very many nervous persons seem to need nothing more than this simple kind of help.
=When Simple Explanation Does not Explain.= For very many cases, however, this procedure, good as it is, does not go deep enough. Although it gives a sound objective education about the facts of one’s body, it furnishes only the most superficial subjective knowledge of one’s inner life. If the inner struggle be bitter, the competing forces will hold on to their poor refuge in the symptom, despite any number of explanations that the symptom can have no physical cause. Sometimes it is enough for a person to be shown that he is too suggestible, but often it is far more helpful for him to get an inkling as to why he likes unhealthy suggestions, and to understand something of his starved instincts which he may learn to satisfy in better ways.
Between the two extremes of the cases which need a real analysis and those which are cured by simple explanation, I have found the great bulk of nervous cases. To simple explanation with its highly useful information, I therefore add what might be called psychological explanation, a re-education which makes use of all that illuminating material unearthed by the explorations of hypnosis and especially of psycho-analysis. Along with correct ideas about such matters as digestion, sleep, and fatigue, I give, so far as the patient is able to understand, a comprehension of the rights of the denied instincts, the ways of the subconscious, the fettering hold of unfortunate childish habits, the various mental mechanisms by which we fool ourselves, and the ways by which we may make better adaptations.
=According to the Patient.= The treatment varies according to the nature of the trouble, and is somewhat dependent on the mentality of the patient. There are many people who would only be confused by being forced into a study of mental phenomena. Not being students, they would be more bewildered than helped by the details of their inner mechanisms. Others, of studious habits and inquiring minds, are encouraged to browse at will in a library of psychotherapy and to learn all that they can from the best authorities.